Thursday, January 21, 2016

Is Your Student Taking the SAT/ACT Soon?

This Saturday, Jan. 23rd, will be the last time the old version of the SAT will be given. The newly redesigned SAT will be given for the first time in March.  That one will be the one now aligned to Common Core standards.  Test prep companies say yes - it's creating a lot of anxiety (which may help the folks that give the ACT.)

Jay Bacrania, CEO of the test prep company Signet Education, LLC, said he's hearing from a lot of parents and students who are worried about the new version of the SAT. "There's been a lot of hype and publicity," he said. And while he doesn't anticipate that students will score much differently on the new version of the SAT than the old, he expects that anxiety will spur more students to look at the ACT. "I think ACT is going to see a big bump in their numbers this year," Bacrania said. Kaplan Test Prep told Morning Education that in a survey of high school guidance counselors, about a third are advising their students to take both the SAT and ACT. About 43 percent of parents also said their child plans to take both exams, said Lee Weiss, Kaplan's VP of pre-college programs.
Just to let you know, the AP, SAT, ACT and Common Application ALL will ask students if they will waive their FERPA rights for the survey about their student data.  For the Common App, they claim that "waiving your right lets colleges know that you will never try to read your recommendations."  That, in turn, reassures colleges that your recommenders have provided support that is candid and truthful.  While you are free to respond as you wish, if you choose not to waive your right, some recommenders may decline your request, and some colleges may disregard recommendations submitted on your behalf.
You can't change your mind after you make the selection (what an interesting thing to do on a testing document) and "we urge you to not answer the waiver question until you have consulted with your counselor, another school official or your parent/legal guardian." 
They also have a section about the Common App partnering with Scholar Snap (the Dell Foundation) to connect students with scholarships.  If you waive your student data, they,too, will receive it.  
Pretty outrageous.  What happened to a sealed envelope sent directly to the colleges/universities?
Some education researchers are working on a piece about how the College Board (SAT) requests very personal information from students, i.e. religious affiliation, ethnicity, extracurricular interests, family income, etc., so that students can opt-in to receiving information about colleges and scholarships through their Student Search Service.... which, of course, sells certain student information for 40 cents apiece.
According to their website, students can provide this type information and opt-in during the online registration process well in advance of the test. We have also heard that students are asked to provide similar information and can opt-in on test day. In fact, according to their website ( ) students can opt-in to the Student Search Website directly on their answer sheet when taking the test. 

But they are looking for people direct knowledge that test takers are asked to volunteer personal information on test day, beyond what is necessary to complete the exam. For example we understand students must give their name, address, phone, birth date, etc., but are students also asked questions about their personal interests, family income, course grades, estimated graduation date, etc.. Also, does anyone know if there is a checkbox on the answer sheet to opt-in to sharing the information via the Student Search Service? 
They have queried College Board and Student Search Service but no reply.  If your student wants to help with this, talk to them and have them look over what information is asked on their opt-in sheet.  
Then, write to me at  Of course, no names or identifying info would be given to the researchers. 


Anonymous said...

Who pays you to be a lobbyist? Have you registered?

Black Widow

Melissa Westbrook said...

For the last time, I'm not a lobbyist and I don't get paid. That my work upsets/riles/worries some people is not something that concerns me.

Anonymous said...

Why do so many have the assumption that these giant, income-focused companies are going to do good things? Companies like the College Board do not have kids' best interest in mind - they are focused on shareholders, just like every other giant corporation. One of the ways this company earns money is by selling our kids' private information to god only knows. I am not ok with that. The government is way behind where they need to be regarding making laws to protect the collection of information on children.

I am thankful for "regular" people who work to highlight these issues. Governments and companies have been forced to changed their behaviors when they know people are watching.

Thanks, Melissa.


mirmac1 said...

Anyone know when PSAT scores come out? thx

Lynn said...

They are available online now!

mirmac1 said...

But I looked under assessments on the Source. Nothing in Schoology. ?!?!?!

Pm said...

Mirmac1-They are posted on the College Board website

mirmac1 said...